Moving to Tokyo? Real estate agent picks five best neighborhoods for single residents

real estate

RocketNews 24 (by Preston Phro):

Tokyo is a big place, both in terms of population and area, and if you’re moving here from anywhere else, you might be at a bit of a loss in terms of where to look for an apartment. Obviously, a large part of that decisions is up to personal preference, but we do happen to have some advice for areas to look at if this will be your first time living alone!

These five areas were selected by a local real estate agent, so you know they must be good, right?

1. Nakano

Nakano_Oka1

For a lot of youngsters moving to (or already living in) Tokyo, Kichijoji is the place to be, but it’s also fairly expensive. So, our real estate friend said, “If you want to live in Kichijoji no matter what, I would definitely recommend the Nakano area, as it’s on the same train line as Kichijoji. The neighborhood gives you access to not only JR train lines but also subways, making it a really convenient place. It’s been popular with students for a long time, and there are a lot of treasures to be dug up if you look.

Rents in the Nakano area tend to range from quite high to extremely cheap, so you can be sure to find something that fits your budget. There are also plenty of shops and supermarkets in the area, making it all the more convenient. Similar places would be Koenji, Ogikubo, Asagaya, and Higashi-Nakano.

2. Komagome and Tabata

Komagome Station

Generally, living near the JR Yamanote Line, which circles the heart of downtown Tokyo, means paying a lot in rent, but the Komagome and Tabata areas are (relatively) inexpensive. People generally don’t think of either area when they think of the Yamanote Line, but they do, in fact, have stations on it. Also, they’re close to lively Shinjuku, making it easier to go out for a drink whenever you feel like!

Our real estate agent told us, “They’re not the most glamorous areas, but they have plenty of shops and supermarkets, so they’re by no means inconvenient. And they’re not too expensive either. Komagome in particular has green spaces like Rikugien and Kyu-Furukawa gardens, in addition to temples and shrines, making it a good place to take a stroll on your days off.”

3. Sumiyoshi

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Apparently people aren’t too familiar with the Sumiyoshi area, even people living in Tokyo. However, it has stations on both the Hanzomon and Shinjuku lines, so you can get wherever you want to go pretty easily. Even better, you can get to Otemachi, Shibuya, and Shinjuku without changing trains!

Like most of the places on this list, the Sumiyoshi area has supermarkets and shops, as well as lots of greenery in places like Sarueonshi Park. “It’s a popular area for families,” the real estate agent told us, “but there are also a variety of places for people living alone.” It’s apparently gotten a bit more expensive in the last few years as its popularity has grown, but it’s still reasonable and convenient.

4. Kamata

Kamata_Station_East_Entrance_Rotary

This area is kind of close to Kanagawa Prefecture (which is actually a plus if you’re keen to spend your weekends at the temples of Kamakura or seaside parks in Yokohama), but access to the Tokyo city center isn’t too bad. The area right around the station feels fairly busy but not so far away from it things are pretty quiet and rents aren’t too expensive. There are a lot of inexpensive but good restaurants around the station, so it’s pretty convenient for people living alone.

Access to the city center isn’t the best, but Ikegami and Hasunuma, which are accessible from Kamata on the Tokyu Ikegami line, are worth checking out. Due to the less-than-ideal public transportation options, rent is cheaper, so if you can’t find what you want in Kamata, these two areas might be worth a look.

5. Asakusa

Hozomon_and_pagoda,_Sensoji_Temple,_Asakusa,_Tokyo

People tend to think of Asakusa as a tourist area, but it does also have a lot of residences. As you might expect, rent around Sensoji temple and the station is expensive, but if you head towards Tawaramachi or Iriya, there are plenty of inexpensive places,” we were told. And, in addition to Sensoji and the shopping/dining area around it, there are also plenty of restaurants elsewhere in Asakusa, too.

Apparently there isn’t much in the north part of the Asakusa area, so if you want to make the most of living in Asakusa, our real estate friend told us that places close to Asakusa, Tawaramachi, Inaricho, and Iriya stations are highly recommended.

Final thoughts

Our real estate agent left us with some good general advice. While people moving to Tokyo probably want to live in the famous places they’ve already heard of, they’re also the most expensive. If your selected area has a mixture of JR lines and subway lines, it probably won’t be inconvenient at all to get to those glamorous high-rent districts for a day out (or a day in the office), and you will have an easier time living in the city when you rent isn’t through the roof.

Other recommended locations were: Kotake-mukaehara, Machiya, Koiwa, Akabane, and Kiba. Also, we were told that places like Nezu and Sendagi, which have a lot of history and older shops and temples, are places where you can enjoy putting down roots of your own.

12 beautiful Japanese train stations by the sea

青海川

RocketNews 24 (by Preston Phro):

Being an island nation, there is no shortages of beaches in Japan–though if you live in Tokyo, there are times when the only thing resembling the ocean to be seen is a sea of people. After a weekday morning commute spent sloshing around in a packed train car, it’s easy to find yourself wishing for a more relaxed environment like the beach. And with summer in full swing, there are plenty of beaches we’d rather be lounging on than just about anything.

But it’s a busy world and who has time to sit on the beach and just relax? Well, we sure don’t! But for those of us always on the go, there are a few train stations that at least will give you a view of the ocean on your way to whatever business you may have. Think of it like a vacation that lasts as long as the train stops!

Here are 12 of Japan’s stations on the sea–beautiful, serene, and just outside your train window!

Kitahama Station

Located on the Sea of Okhotsk in north-east Hokkaido, this is perhaps one of the coldest train stations Japan, though you couldn’t tell it from the first two photos below. However, it turns out that a train ride to Kitahama Station will provide you not only with a beautiful view of the ocean, but also of drift ice! In fact, Kitahama Station is apparently the only train station in Japan that regularly offers a glimpse of that fantastic frozen, floating phenomenon.

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Todoroki Station

Heading to the mainland, this station in Aomori Prefecture is close to the Sea of Japan–extremely close! During stormy weather, waves actually wash over the track and up to the station. While we’re not sure if that’s the most practical location, it does make for beautiful photo opportunities. In fact, the station was featured in JR advertising in 2002, driving train- and station-loving fans out to Aomori. We can’t blame them–a dip in the sea sounds great right now!

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Nebukawa Station

Located in Kanagawa Prefecture, this is the only station on the Tokaido Main Line between Tokyo and Kobe that is unmanned, though it is apparently a popular destination during New Years. It also provides a stunning view of open waters.

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Shimonada Station

Another unmanned stop, Shimonada Station is located in Ehime Prefecture on the Shikoku Yosan Line. Having been featured in numerous posters and other JR advertisements, the station has become popular among train lovers and photographers across the country as a location for breathtaking landscape photos. It even has its own Facebook page!

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Baishinji Station

Another station in Ehime PrefectureBaishinji Station is not famous just for its location–though it certainly is beautiful. The station captured the popular imagination in 1991 thanks to the TV drama Tokyo Love Story, about three Ehime friends who eventually reunite in Tokyo. As you may have guessed from the photo below, Rika, one of the main characters of the show, ties a “bye-bye handkerchief” to the railing in a climactic scene. Fans of the show and travelers have kept up the tradition for over two decades!

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Yoroi Station

This Hyogo Prefecture station isn’t much to look at itself–it could easily be mistaken for a run-down bathroom in an interstate rest area–but the view from the platform certainly makes up for it. Not only is the station unmanned, there aren’t even any automated ticket machines! Despite its desolate appearance, the station has become a bit of an attraction for train lovers following its appearance in some TV shows. It has also appeared in JR advertisements, where it was written that “you can feel the sea breeze blowing off the ocean right under your eyes just standing on the platform.”

▼The station itself

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▼The view from the platform.

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Oobatake Station

One of the more rural areas of Japan, Yamaguchi Prefecture is also home to Oobatake Station, which sits right along the sea. An hour train ride from the Shinkansen station in Hiroshima, this station is an excellent sightseeing destination–though that’s about all you’ll have time for! In this part of the country, you can usually find only local trains.

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Oumikawa Station

Apparently this Niigata Prefecture station is the closest to actual open waters in Japan, though judging from other entries on this list, the competition for that honor is fierce. In fact, the train line runs right along the coast for several miles, making not just this station but the entire route a beautiful destination for sight-seers. And, like many other stops on this list, the station is unmanned. We’re starting to wonder how JR gets people to pay for tickets…

Yukawa Station

Located in Wakayama Prefecture, Yukawa Station provides a magnificent view not only of the sea but also of the prefecture’s mountains. And if you’re a fan of the beach, the station is just a stone’s throw away from the Yukawa Kaisui Yokujo (Yukawa Swimming Area). Best of all, this station is also unmanned, so there won’t be any attendants to scold you for tracking sand and water all over the platform!

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Umashibaura Station

Situated on Tokyo Bay in Kanagawa Prefecture, this station is probably not where you’d want to wait out a storm with large waves. It is, however, an excellent destination for sight-seeing. In addition to the view of the bay, rail riders are afforded an excellent view of the Yokohama Bay Bridge, Tsurumi Tsubasa Bridge, and fireworks launched from Yamashita Park in the summer.

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Kamakurakoko Mae Station

As you may have guessed from the name of this station, it’s located in Kamakura City, Kanagawa Prefecture near Kamakura High School. Kamakura City, in addition to its beautiful temples, shrines, and German sausages, is a popular destination for its gorgeous beaches. The station offers a beautiful view of the ocean and as well as Enoshima, Miura Peninsula, and even Mt. Fuji on clear days. That said, we’re sure it’s a horrible way to start the school day–imaging having a gorgeous beach dangled in front of you only for it to be ripped away and replaced with an hour spent conjugating English verbs!

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鎌倉高校前駅 (2)

Tagi Station

This beach-front train stop is located in Shimane Prefecture, the second least populated prefecture in Japan. Despite the lack of people around to use it, Tagi Station and the area between it and its neighbor down the line Oda Station are famous as sight-seeing destinations and have appeared in numerous magazines. Apparently there is also a sakura (cherry) tree next to the platform, providing a unique photo opportunity when the tree blossoms in the spring.

Tagi Station

Newly established Japan Ninja Council promises to be your one-stop website for all things ninja

RocketNews 24:

When you think of “cool Japan,” it’s hard to overlook ninjas, those stealthy spies and assassins with more tricks up their sleeve than a magician in a parka. And yet it seems these timeless icons of Japanese culture have largely been overlooked by the national government’s Cool Japan in favor of AKB48 spin-offs and abacuses.

So instead, a band of 11 Japanese governors and mayors have assembled to create the Japan Ninja Council (JNC) with the sole aim of reminding everyone how cool ninjas are. Having officially launched on 9 October they aim to collect every bit of information on ninjas, including their history and culture, and provide it to anyone who wants to learn more about these elusive figures.

All 11 founding fathers of the JNC took part in an opening ceremony last Friday to celebrate its birth. They include the governors of Kanagawa, Shiga, and Saga Prefectures along with the mayors of Odawara, Ueda, Iga, Koga, and Ureshino.

The council will be led by its president, Mie Prefecture Govenor Eikei Suzuki, and vice-president, former Japan Tourism Agency Commissioner Hiroshi Mizohata. Rounding out the group is prominent kabuki actor Ichikawa Ebizo the Eleventh in a supporting role.

▼ Most members decided to look the part for the council’s launch

Unfortunately since they decided to launch on a Friday before a long weekend, nothing much has happened yet. The JNC website “ninja-official.com” is up but only has a brief history of ninjas and a video about a ninja weapons show in Iga. It is a fairly cool video though.

Japan Ninja Council
Official WebsiteTwitter
Facebook

Tourist in Japan snaps a photo of the sea, his daughter, and maybe a ghost

RocketNews 24/Yahoo News:

Kanagawa Prefecture has some of the most popular beaches in Japan, especially along the section of the coast known as Shonan. A magnet for both locals and day trippers from Tokyo, when the sun is shining you’ll find a cross section of Japanese society in and around the water, including surfers, partying college students, couples, and families,

This photo of a four-year-old girl on a beach in Zushi, Japan, seems innocent until you look closely behind her legs and back. A closer look appears to reveal a mysterious pair of boots and part of a blue shirt peeking out from behind her.

The photo, which was uploaded to Reddit by a friend of the girl’s father, is making the rounds on Internet. Many are speculating the photo shows a Samurai ghost because the beach the girl and her dad were on was across a samurai graveyard.

I took a few pictures, and when I was looking through them at night, I noticed what appeared to be a pair of boots behind her in one of the photos,” he said. “I took several of her in the same spot, but only one had the boots.“”My daughter thinks the whole thing is just so funny,” Martin Springall, who took the photo, told ABC News today. “She thinks it’s a ghost, but not a scary ghost — a nice one.”

Springall said the photo was taken on July 6, 2014 during a weekend trip to the beach. He added his family now lives in Toronto, Canada, but had been living in Tokyo at the time.

Springall said he freaked out, and he later showed the photo to his friend Brian Publicover during a camping trip in Japan in August.

Publicover put it up on Reddit’s “Ghosts” subreddit, and theories poured in.

Some thought it could be the ghost of a World War II sailor,” Springall said.

He added the photo is “completely legitimate” and not retouched in any way.

My daughter is really shy, and she wouldn’t have taken a picture if there was someone standing behind her, which I would have definitely noticed,” Springall said.

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Of course, we’d like to point to the fact that these mysterious leg-free photos are all also taken at a different angle, something that’s pretty easy to see by comparing the direction of the line in the sand that can be seen in the background.

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Not only is the “ghost photo” taken at a different angle, it’s also a different distance from the irregularly shaped outcropping that’s directly behind the girl in the picture that’s getting all the attention, so it’s possible that those “legs” are really just “rocks.”

Still, the rumors of supernatural activity persist, in part thanks to Obiaruf’s claim that “I know there are very old samurai tombs nearby,” although he hasn’t offered any specifics as to just whose tomb he’s talking about. For that matter, at the risk of flaunting our first-hand knowledge of the country, Japan doesn’t really do stand-alone tombs. Gravestones, sure, but those are usually inside temples, not stand-alone monuments by the sea. Whole structures to house the dead, meanwhile, are very few and far between, and not really something you’ll find in the part of Japan where Zushi is located.

Moving to Tokyo? Real estate agent picks five best neighborhoods for single residents

real estate

RocketNews 24:

Tokyo is a big place, both in terms of population and area, and if you’re moving here from anywhere else, you might be at a bit of a loss in terms of where to look for an apartment. Obviously, a large part of that decisions is up to personal preference, but we do happen to have some advice for areas to look at if this will be your first time living alone!

These five areas were selected by a local real estate agent, so you know they must be good, right?

1. Nakano

Nakano_Oka1

For a lot of youngsters moving to (or already living in) Tokyo, Kichijoji is the place to be, but it’s also fairly expensive. So, our real estate friend said, “If you want to live in Kichijoji no matter what, I would definitely recommend the Nakano area, as it’s on the same train line as Kichijoji. The neighborhood gives you access to not only JR train lines but also subways, making it a really convenient place. It’s been popular with students for a long time, and there are a lot of treasures to be dug up if you look.”

Rents in the Nakano area tend to range from quite high to extremely cheap, so you can be sure to find something that fits your budget. There are also plenty of shops and supermarkets in the area, making it all the more convenient. Similar places would be Koenji, Ogikubo, Asagaya, and Higashi-nakano.

2. Komagome and Tabata

Komagome Station

Generally, living near the JR Yamanote Line, which circles the heart of downtown Tokyo, means paying a lot in rent, but the Komagome and Tabata areas are (relatively) inexpensive. People generally don’t think of either area when they think of the Yamanote Line, but they do, in fact, have stations on it. Also, they’re close to lively Shinjuku, making it easier to go out for a drink whenever you feel like!

Our real estate agent told us, “They’re not the most glamorous areas, but they have plenty of shops and supermarkets, so they’re by no means inconvenient. And they’re not too expensive either. Komagome in particular has green spaces like Rikugien and Kyu-Furukawa gardens, in addition to temples and shrines, making it a good place to take a stroll on your days off.”

3. Sumiyoshi

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Apparently people aren’t too familiar with the Sumiyoshi area, even people living in Tokyo. However, it has stations on both the Hanzomon and Shinjuku lines, so you can get wherever you want to go pretty easily. Even better, you can get to Otemachi, Shibuya, and Shinjuku without changing trains!

Like most of the places on this list, the Sumiyoshi area has supermarkets and shops, as well as lots of greenery in places like Sarueonshi Park. “It’s a popular area for families,” the real estate agent told us, “but there are also a variety of places for people living alone.”

It’s apparently gotten a bit more expensive in the last few years as its popularity has grown, but it’s still reasonable and convenient.

4. Kamata

Kamata_Station_East_Entrance_Rotary

This area is kind of close to Kanagawa Prefecture (which is actually a plus if you’re keen to spend your weekends at the temples of Kamakura or seaside parks in Yokohama), but access to the Tokyo city center isn’t too bad. The area right around the station feels fairly busy but not so far away from it things are pretty quiet and rents aren’t too expensive. There are a lot of inexpensive but good restaurants around the station, so it’s pretty convenient for people living alone.

Access to the city center isn’t the best, but Ikegami and Hasunuma, which are accessible from Kamata on the Tokyu Ikegami line, are worth checking out. Due to the less-than-ideal public transportation options, rent is cheaper, so if you can’t find what you want in Kamata, these two areas might be worth a look.

5. Asakusa

Hozomon_and_pagoda,_Sensoji_Temple,_Asakusa,_Tokyo

People tend to think of Asakusa as a tourist area, but it does also have a lot of residences. As you might expect, rent around Sensoji temple and the station is expensive, but if you head towards Tawaramachi or Iriya, there are plenty of inexpensive places,” we were told. And, in addition to Sensoji and the shopping/dining area around it, there are also plenty of restaurants elsewhere in Asakusa, too.

Apparently there isn’t much in the north part of the Asakusa area, so if you want to make the most of living in Asakusa, our real estate friend told us that places close to Asakusa, Tawaramachi, Inaricho, and Iriya stations are highly recommended.

Final thoughts

Our real estate agent left us with some good general advice. While people moving to Tokyo probably want to live in the famous places they’ve already heard of, they’re also the most expensive. If your selected area has a mixture of JR lines and subway lines, it probably won’t be inconvenient at all to get to those glamorous high-rent districts for a day out (or a day in the office), and you will have an easier time living in the city when you rent isn’t through the roof.

Other recommended locations were: Kotake-mukaehara, Machiya, Koiwa, Akabane, and Kiba. Also, we were told that places like Nezu and Sendagi, which have a lot of history and older shops and temples, are places where you can enjoy putting down roots of your own.

The 11 Cat Islands of Japan

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RocketNews 24:

In the never-ending debate as to whether cats or dogs are the superior animal, it’s pretty safe to say felines have the edge as far as tranquility is concerned. For example, an island full of stray dogs is likely to be visited by animal control, whereas an island covered in cats instead gets visited by tons of tourists.

This ability to live in general harmony with the human population means that Japan is filled with places that have earned the nicknameNekojima,” or “Cat Island.”Today, we take a whirlwind photo tour of 11 of them.

 

1. Enoshima, Kanagawa Prefecture
Closest station: Katase Enoshima

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For residents and visitors to Tokyo, the closest isle worthy of the Cat Island designation lies in Kanagawa Prefecture, the capital’s neighbor to the south. Enoshima, which can be walked onto from a bridge across the street from Katase Enoshima Station, is most famous for its shrine located inside a cave and the connected legend of a dragon that fell in love with a beautiful maiden. The area’s beaches also make it a popular summertime destination for surfers, sunbathers, and partiers.

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Stop by Enoshima on an offseason weekday afternoon, though and you’re likely to run into as many cats as people as you stroll up the path that winds to the top of the island.

2. Okishima, Shiga Prefecture
Nearest port: Horikiri

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Not every Nekojima is on the ocean, though, as Okishima is actually a floating island in the middle of Lake Biwa, the largest freshwater depository in Japan. With just 350 residents, the fishing community is small enough that bicycles are the main mode of transportation on the island, meaning its feline inhabitants to live without fear f being hit by a car.

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3. Sanagishima, Kagawa Prefecture
Nearest port: Tadotsu

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This is the one of several Cat Islands located in the Inland Sea, which is dotted with fishing settlements and blessed with a temperate climate. Sanagishima lies of the coast of Kagawa, Japan’s smallest prefecture which makes up the northeast corner of the island of Shikoku.

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4. Aoshima, Ehime Prefecture
Nearest port: Nagahama

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Moving west, we come to Ehime Prefecture, which is also a part of Shikoku. Aoshima might be the most sparsely populated of Japan’s Cat Islands, with just 15 permanent residents compared to several times as many felines.

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This is strictly a day-trip destination, though. The advanced age of most of the community’s members mean that on Aoshima you won’t be able to find a hotel to spend the night, a restaurant to have dinner in, or, shockingly for Japan, even a vending machine to buy a drink from (make sure to stock up on supplies before you get on the boat).

 

5. Muzukijima, Ehime Prefecture

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While many Cat Islands are home to fishing communities, Muzukijima instead is covered with citrus groves, keeping with Ehime’s popular image as growing the best oranges in Japan.

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6. Manabeshima, Okayama Prefecture
Closest port: Kasaoka

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31 kilometers (19 miles) off the coast of Japan’s main island of Honshu, Manabeshima’s isolation has helped preserve its natural beauty, which along with its warm climate has made the island a historically popular choice for film crews (and, yes, cats).

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7. Iwaishima, Yamaguchi Prefecture
Nearest port: Yanai

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Our last stop in the Inland Sea, visitors arrive at Iwaishima at the end of a stretch of island hopping that begins at the port in the historic town of Yanai.

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8. Aijima Fukuoka Prefecture
Nearest port: Kokura

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Moving to the country’s opposite coastline, we come to Aijima, on the Sea of Japan. Aijima is one of the easiest Cat Islands for busy travelers to get to, as the Shinkansen bullet train stops just a few minutes’ walk from where visitors can catch a boat at Kokura Port.

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9. Aishima, Fukuoka Prefecture
Nearest port: Shingu

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Also in Fukuoka, the name of vaguely heart-shaped Aishima is, sadly, not written with the same kanji character as ai, or “love.” Nonetheless, the island’s romantic geography does seem to be having an influence on its feline population, if these photos taken there are anything to go by.

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10. Genkaishima, Fukuoka Prefecture
Nearest port: Hakata

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Another easy to access Cat Island, Genkaishima can be reached from Hakata Port, which is located in Fukuoka City the prefectural capital and largest city in the region.

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Genkaishima was home to Japan’s largest island-based cat population until the community was hit hard by an earthquake in 2005, although its number of felines is now said to be on the rise once again.

 

11. Kadarashima, Saga Prefecture
Nearest port: Yobuko

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Finally, we come to Kadarashima. Legend holds that long ago, a dog earned the wrath of the deity of the Kadarashima’s Yasakajinja Shrine, and the species was driven from the island, which today is completely absent of canines.

With their bitter rivals gone, will the local cats be able to redirect their energies into unlocking their true mental, and, dare we say it, cultural potential? Could Kadarashima be the starting point of a new phase of feline evolution, where cats learn from, and begin to emulate, their human neighbors, such as the elderly gentleman pictured above?

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Taste Test: Sankt Gallen Sakura cherry blossom beer

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RocketNews 24: (by Casey Baseel)

After three months of cold weather, I’m ready for spring. Coincidentally, after a long week of work, I’m ready for a beer.

Lucky me, these two desires have dovetailed perfectly in the form of Kanagawa Prefecture microbrewer Sankt Gallen’s newest offering, made with the petals of the harbinger of Japanese spring, cherry blossoms. So strap on your drinking caps, because it’s time for the sakura beer taste test!

While Sankt Gallen Sakura can be ordered here directly from the brewer, you can also find it in select grocers and liquor stores. The Tokyu Store at Hiyoshi Station on the Toyoko Line (which runs between Toyoko Line’s Shibuya and Yokohama) had the special beer in stock on February 24, the day of its release.

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At 464 yen (US $3.95) a bottle, the cherry blossom beer is a little more expensive than major brands like Asahi or Kirin, but perfectly in line with what you’ll usually pay for microbrew beers in Japan. Actually, in the eyes of the law, it’s not even a beer, buthapposhu. While that designation usually gets slapped on low-malt, low-quality alcoholic beverages in Japan, in the case of Sankt Gallen Sakura, the classification seems to be strictly a result of it being made with sakura petals and leaves. Since these aren’t standard beer ingredients, for legal purposes, the brew gets classified as happoshu instead of beer .

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While the brew’s happoshu status is listed in the fine print, you’ll find “Sweets Beer” writ large on the label. That’s because the true flavor inspiration for Sankt Gallen Sakura is the traditional Japanese confectionary called sakura mochi, a dollop of sweet red beans wrapped in a thin, sweet rice cake, which is in turn wrapped in an edible sakura leaf.

▼ Sakura mochi, in non-beer form

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▼ The cap is not a twist-off, by the way.

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Sankt Gallen Sakura pours up without much head, and if you prefer drinking beer to chewing foam you can pretty much eliminate it from your glass entirely. The color is unique, in that it’s golden without being particularly yellow. As a matter of fact, it almost looks like some varieties of green tea, which is appropriate considering the Japanese inspiration for its flavor.

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One common element between the three Sankt Gallen brews I’d tried before the cherry blossom beer is a heavy bitterness. On its website, the brewer claims the sakura beer is less harsh that its usual offerings, and that’s definitely true, although there’s still more bitterness here than in, say, a bottle of Asahi Super Dry. Sadly, there’s no cherry blossom aroma to the beverage, and truth be told, initially the special ingredients don’t seem to affect the flavor very much either.

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After the liquid washes over your taste receptors, though, there’s a subtle but lingering sweet saltiness that spreads out from the center of your tongue. While it doesn’t, by any means, scream “Japanese dessert,” the sensation should be familiar to those who’ve eaten sakura mochi.

At the finish, there’s a crisp but not unpleasant bitterness that hits the back of your throat. Overall, there’s a lot of character to Sankt Gallen Sakura. One of its most intriguing characteristics is that, in contrast to the sharp sensations of bitterness that bookend its flavor profile, it’s got a very light mouth feel, something you’d generally associate with a less flavorful beer.

It’s usually been my experience that combining desserts with beer worsens them both, as though the universe is punishing you for asking for too much pleasure in one sitting. That’s not necessarily true with Sankt Gallen Sakura and sakura mochi, though. Maybe it’s because of its light mouth feel, it stays drinkable even when alternating sips of beer and bites of sweets, although doing so dulls the beverage’s more unique flavor components a bit.

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When all is said and done, how does the drinking experience compare to that of last year’s Mint Chocolate Stout? Well, remember that post-tasting snapshot above? Here’s the one for Sankt Gallen Sakura.

Sort of like a cherry blossom viewing party, Sankt Gallen Sakura isn’t necessarily something you’d want to experience every day. But as a unique change of pace for a special occasion once or twice a year?

Definitely.

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